NEW YORK (AP) – Celebrities gathered Thursday night to raise $7.5 million for John Kerry and John Edwards – or “kid” as Whoopi Goldberg called the newest addition to the Democratic presidential ticket.

The comedian greeted Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry, and then peered into the crowd looking for Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth Edwards. “And where’s the kid? Where’s young Mr. Edwards? And, where’s my girl, where’s my girl? Stand up miss girl.”

Teasing Kerry, Goldberg said: “Not that your not youthful. You’re very youthful John. But he’s youthful. He looks like he’s 18!”

Later she offered the Kerry-Edwards ticket a little advice: “John and John. Kid and John. Tell the truth, be honest, don’t be afraid. Not everyone’s going to like it.”

The running mates, on their first campaign swing together since Kerry picked Edwards as his vice presidential hopeful on Tuesday, attended the Democratic bash at the famed Radio City Music Hall in midtown Manhattan.

Taking the stage at the end of the evening, Edwards said: “Whoopi Goldberg said earlier tonight that she was afraid she wasn’t going to get a phone call to be here.” Then, he added the punch line: “I can relate to that.”

Then, Kerry joined in: “John Edwards thinks he was worried he wasn’t going to get a phone call. I was worried I wasn’t going to get anybody at home!”

Ticket prices for the evening started at $250 for the concert alone to $25,000 for the concert and a reception, including the celebrities.

The show was sold out with 5,500, though not every donor attended.

The money raised from Thursday’s concert will be divided between Kerry’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Last month, a similar concert in Los Angeles raised $5 million, padding Kerry’s coffers and helping him break fund-raising records.

Musician Jon Bon Jovi, who held a $1 million fund raiser for Kerry at his Middletown, N.J., home last month, performed acoustic versions of two of his hits before officially opening Thursday’s event.

“The beginning of the future starts right here tonight,” Bon Jovi said, launching into the Beatles 1969 optimistic melody “Here Comes The Sun.”

Actress Meryl Streep welcomed the new team with “President Kerry. Vice President Edwards … Oops! I got ahead of myself.”

And, singer Wyclef Jean told the crowd jokingly that he wanted to play his new single. Then he launched into: “If I was president, I’d be elected on Friday, hire Edwards on Saturday, have a big party on Sunday, start work on Monday. Kerry is the president, yah, yah.”

The celebrities didn’t hold back, bashing Bush at every opportunity.

“This guy’s as bright as an egg timer,” actor Chevy Chase said, ridiculing the president for his tendency to sometimes flub the English language. Referring to presidential hobbies, Chase rattled off a list. “Clinton plays the sax, John plays the guitar, and the president’s a liar,” he said matter-of-factly, drawing laughs and cheers.

Remarking that she usually refrains from quoting bumper stickers, actress Jessica Lange said she thought why not? “We’re in a time when our so-called president speaks in only bumper sticker slogans.” The latest one she saw: “Defend America. Defeat Bush.”

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt hit back.

“It is a great example of John Kerry’s priorities that on the day he said he did not have time to receive his intelligence briefing on threats to America, he found time to attend a Hollywood fund-raiser, filled with enough hate and vitriol to make Michael Moore blush,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt was referring to Kerry’s interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live” earlier Thursday in which Kerry, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he had been offered a briefing from the Bush administration about new terror warnings, but told King, “I just haven’t had time.” Kerry then told King he would be briefed later this week.

Other performers at Thursday’s concert included John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews Band and Mary J. Blige. Actors including Paul Newman and Sarah Jessica Parker also spoke.



On the Net:

Kerry campaign: http://www.johnkerry.com

AP-ES-07-08-04 2308EDT



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